Most young women don’t start out intending on becoming family matriarchs. It just happens. One year they are starting a career, dating, going to college, or simply trying to convince their parents they need a little more time before launching out into the world. At this stage, most young women are sweet, fun and trying not to be too aggressive. Who wants to be around a bossy woman? We are told that assertiveness if okay if done tactfully.
And then circumstances change. Some of our mates become bullies. Our jobs demand mature skills. And most demanding of all, we become parents. The babies are so soft and cuddly until they grow into the terrible two’s, then they become little monsters. Well, our precious little monsters, but they have discovered the power of “no,” and they use it often. What to do? We have to change social tactics. I’ve taught tactics to my children to use with their children. “Don’t ever let them see you sweat. You are the boss, and there is no haggling! I don’t care if you must go into the bathroom and cry, just don’t let them see you. Let them know you are in control.”
Did I do that with my child? Of course not, but I am wiser now, and I’ve seen the Nanny on TV do it that way! Being left alone in tough situations slowly make us tougher. We are in control, even if at times we don’t want to be. I chuckled one day when my nephew complained that he had married the perfect sweetheart, and then a few years later, she had turned into his mother, keeping their children lined out.
In a restaurant the other day, after observing how I spent some time ordering my food just like I liked it, my son said I and his other mother-in-law were gifts from God. How so, I asked? Well, I must use lots of patience and not be too embarrassed, he explained.
He regaled me with descriptions of taking his mother-in-law to the grocery store for “just an item or two.” She went up and down each isle, read packages, felt (and smelled) fruit, and left an hour later.
I’m truly working on my matriarch attitude. I know I have a habit of trying to call a particular grandchild by name, but start with the oldest one’s name and go through the list of possible names before I finally get to the right one, so I try to be silent until their name comes to me. In an emergence, they will just have to figure out who I’m yelling at…
And I try to prioritize my requests of my son. Choose only the things you really need help with, I tell myself, and then you won’t see that grimace when you’ve made a pest of yourself. I occasionally startle myself when I find I’ve almost turned into my mother. She ran the household, but she was careful not to let my father know it.